Engineers Create 3D Printed Splitters for Ventilators Amidst Covid-19 Spread


The global pandemic of Covid-19 is not looking to settle down any time soon. There has been a growing demand for ventilators to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients. In response to this increasing demand, a team of engineers from Johns Hopkins University are working towards development and prototyping a 3-D printed splitter. This splitter will allow the use of a single ventilator for treating more than one patients. However, healthcare professionals are currently expressing their concerns about the effectiveness, safety, and reliability of sharing ventilators.  The team is thus, working towards designing the tool to address these concerns specifically.

Currently, there is a growing onus on how to use engineering techniques and knowledge to create open-source solutions for different aspects of Covid-19. Ventilator production and design are high on agenda. Sung Hoon Kang shares these views as he leads the research team to develop this novel tool. Kang works as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University. His team also includes pulmonary specialists and ICU intensivists at the John Hopkins School of Medicine.

The team is trying to figure out an approach where a single ventilator treats multiple patients. While this option is viable, it must be effective and reliable for all the patients. The team wants to ensure that each patient receives the care they need, without stepping on others’ needs.

The leading cause of death due to Covid-19 is acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS. Ventilator is necessary for treating this condition. As the pandemic spreads more and the cases rise each day, it is putting a lot of stress on the overall medical infrastructure. With the help of this splitter tool, it will become possible to treat several patients whilst effectively managing the available resources. The team is keen of creating a robust design that can be manufactured with a comparatively simple production process such as 3-D printing.

The prototype is ready and the research team hopes to finalize and begin testing their design on model lungs. Once the design receives approval by the FDA, their plan is to publish the open-source design so as to help others.

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